Montreal’s Snow Woes

A woman shovels snow from around her car following a winter storm in Montreal, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (Graham Hughes/CP)

As I mentioned Montreal was hit with a large late-winter snowstorm last week. As a city that tends to take great pride in our ability to deal with these things, this most recent storm has been a bit of an anomaly. First there was the fiasco of hundreds of people stranded on a highway for many hours behind two stuck trucks. The truck drivers refused to be towed because of the $2000 fee. They wanted to wait until their company tow-truck arrived which was not going to be any time soon.

If there is an up side to the highway snafu it is that not one of those marooned in their cars took matters into his or her own hands and attempted to throttle the stubborn truck drivers.

You might wonder why these two were not arrested, taken away and their trucks towed. But that would have required the intervention of police and it seems they had wrong information and did not think the situation warranted their presence. (Yet a few days later six cars and a dozen police officers convened on the scene of a 26-year old driver who danced outside his car to cheer up his girlfriend at 2:00 am. He was also eating ice-cream. And he was Black.)

If there is an up side to the highway snafu it is that not one of those marooned in their cars took matters into his or her own hands and attempted to throttle the stubborn truck drivers. My faith in humankind remains firm.

The mayor of one affected borough posted a photo on Twitter illustrating the problem. An immense amount of fallen snow was exacerbated by contractors having dumped snow from driveways.

In yet another snow related situation there has been a vast problem with Montreal’s usually efficient snow removal. Sidewalks in some areas had not been ploughed several days after the snow stopped falling. One of the contributors to this was scofflaw private snow removal contractors placing snow in public places. They would arrive at a client’s place, shovel the walkways, plough out the driveway, deposit the snow on the street and off to the next client. In my part of town contractors must pay an annual fee for a license that allows them to do this BUT there are many restrictions. They cannot put the snow where it will block traffic, nor can they put it on sidewalks. With such a huge amount of snow in no time already massive snowbanks had been transformed into walls.

The mayor of one affected borough posted a photo on Twitter illustrating the problem. An immense amount of fallen snow was exacerbated by contractors having dumped snow from driveways.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this it is that contractors in general tend to cut corners in an effort to make money. These contractors were privately hired by residents, but over the years there has been a trend to cut back municipal employees, or at least not hire more when retirements occur, using attrition to save money. The work that was once carried out by full-time employees gets farmed out to contractors – gardening, refuse collection, road work – through a bidding process. If the only thing you are concerned with is the bottom line – the bean counter method –  then this is the way to go. But if the ‘bang for your buck’ approach is taken, then municipal administrators should think long and hard about what they, and their constituents, getting for the money.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Tweets From History

What if Twitter could be retro-fitted to suit history?!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney: The Singing Bandit

muldoonreagan

On March 17, 1985 – St. Patrick’s Day – U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were in Quebec City to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian MulroneyThe event came to be known as the Shamrock Summit.

Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing,

Perhaps the only thing anyone recalls of this meeting was a gala that was held to fete the visiting president and his wife. At one point during the show the Reagans and Mulroneys, including wife Mila, traipsed across the stage and joined in the singing of When Irish Eyes are Smiling. Reagan, well familiar with stage and screen at times looked a little embarrassed by the whole thing, or perhaps it was just the early signs of the dementia from which he was to suffer.

On the other hand Mulroney was in his glory, sucking up to, boot-licking, a conservative U.S. president in a particularly smarmy manner.

Flash forward 32 years and our neighbours to the south have elected a president even more controversial than Reagan. But as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Last weekend at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate there was a large fundraising event full of glitz and glitter. And there, like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, was now former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney kowtowing to yet another president and, you guessed it, serenading him with his signature tune When Irish Eyes are Smiling.

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Smarmy, toadying, but mostly embarrassing.

Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”?

A woman by the name of Morganna Roberts, perhaps better known as “the kissing bandit” made a name for herself by trotting onto Major League Baseball fields across the States and, kissing players or umpires. She popped-up all over the place and became an unofficial mascot for the game. No doubt her ample bust, which she claimed to be 60 inches, added to the spectacle. Is Brian Mulroney going to become the political “singing bandit”? Appearing at events and singing with/for world leaders? One hopes not.

morganna
Morganna the Kissing Bandit in action

Last week our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, paid a visit to the White House and met with President Trump. For the most part this was a glorified photo-op that maintained a long tradition of neighbourliness between the two countries. Folks here seemed pleased with Trudeau’s demeanour, neither servile nor offensive.

The only positive thing from the Mar-a-Lago affair is that when Canadian musician David Foster, who must take some of the blame for goading Mulroney into sing, presented him with the option of performing Danny Boy, Mulroney stuck with Irish Eyes. I like Danny Boy, and would hate to have it ruined for me by Mulroney using it in a fawning manner. With St. Patrick’s Day less than a month off, I am reassured!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Use The Vaudeville Hook On Those Who Try To Evade Media Questions

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The present state of iciness between the media and the Trump administration is not beneficial for democracy.  The daily appearance of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer before the media is usually fraught with nastiness, obfuscation and outright lies.

The current conditions go beyond a bit of trickery, with Spicer often treating the assembled media like school children.

The press is an integral component of a healthy transparent government. No doubt some things must be kept secret in the interest of public security, and politicians do tend to bend things to their own advantage. But skilled members of the media find ways around those word games. The current conditions go beyond a bit of trickery, with Spicer often treating the assembled media like school children.

Today’s media could take a lesson from the world of entertainment. Old time entertainment at that. Back in the days of Vaudeville the audience had recourse to have a poor act stopped. Aside from hurling tomatoes and insults they would call for “The Hook”.

“Give him the hook!” “The hook” they would shout if an act did not impress them. Indeed once the calls became loud enough a large hook would appear from the wings and the bombing act would be yanked off stage, to hoots of derision from the audience.

gongshow

I think the media should employ a hook of their own. When spokespeople deliberately ignore a question, or choose to respond with another question they are no longer being honest. And most importantly  anytime a person begins a response to a question by saying “Well, I think the real question here is …” then goes on to answer their own question they should be given the hook. It’s a question and answer session, or an interview, not an opportunity to ignore questions and spout rhetoric from a soapbox. Yank them right off the podium.

Should a hook be deemed too intrusive, I suggest another means of dealing with a poor act: a gong. Chuck Barris had the right idea with his Gong Show. Next time Spicer answers his own question instead of the one posed the gathered members of the media should sound a very large loud gong!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Mr Trudeau Goes To Washington

mrsmith

Today Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with US President Donald Trump in Washington. While some of Trudeau’s initial shine may be a wee bit smudged after a couple of years in office, a fairly normal occurrence no doubt, I think it fair to say that he enjoys better approval ratings at home than does Trump who is still causing havoc by being a business bull in a political china shop.  

Trump who is still causing havoc by being a business bull in a political china shop

These two leaders carry on a very long tradition of friendship between the countries. We share the world’s longest undefended border and are each other’s largest trading partner. Trump has been quiet regarding Canada, even dragging his feet when it came to issuing a statement about the Quebec City mosque shooting. When he speaks of changing NAFTA he tends to refer to how it affects trade with Mexico.

A potential sticky topic is Trump’s ban on accepting people from seven Muslim-majority countries while Trudeau is a great proponent of welcoming refugees from these countries. With the ban currently on hold after being twice struck down in court, Trump will no doubt be cranky should the subject come up.  Given his penchant for walls, will he warn Trudeau about those refugees welcomed by Canada making their way south across the undefended border? Will he turn his attention to a northern wall?

Given his penchant for walls, will he warn Trudeau about those refugees welcomed by Canada making their way south across the undefended border?

It is not always true that leaders of Canada and the US get along well. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan seemed to forge a genuine friendship . On the other hand Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was never a favourite of Richard Nixon’s. It seems that not only did Tricky Dickie call Trudeau pere a “son of a bitch” but on at least one occasion he referred to the Canadian Prime Minister as an “asshole”. Upon receiving the news Pierre Trudeau allegedly replied “I’ve been called worse things by better people”.

Hopefully all will go well when the two leaders meet.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Quebec City Shooting: Spurred By Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric?

(PASCAL RATTHE / LE SOLEIL)
(PASCAL RATTHE / LE SOLEIL)

Two armed masked men armed stormed into a mosque on Sunday evening just as prayers were ending. They opened fire killing six men and injuring 19 others, five of whom remain in hospital in critical condition.  

A nasty divisive debate has gripped the US regarding the nature of the bans. Are they religion-specific?  Is the move anti-Muslim or anti-terror?

Forty-eight hours earlier  President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This spurred numerous protests across the country, many at airports, as travellers already en route were detained upon arrival.

A nasty divisive debate has gripped the US regarding the nature of the bans. Are they religion-specific?  Is the move anti-Muslim or anti-terror?  Does the new US administration even understand the difference between those two concepts?

So is it surprising that, in light of this debate, this horrific shooting should occur?  No doubt someone must have figured out that sooner or later some rabid anti-Muslim fanatic would take matters into his own hands. It was bound to happen.

But what does come as a surprise is that the murders were not carried out in Michigan or Iowa. But in Quebec City, here in Canada.

Has the cauldron of hate that has been stirred by Trump’s rhetoric throughout the election process, leading to his victory, splashed over the border?  

I suspect some will point out that this just does not happen in Canada. But it does, it did. Others will state that we have lost our innocence. But we lost that long ago, just ask the friends and families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.and the victims of 1989’s École Polytechnique massacre.

While more will ponder whether the debate to our south played any role in the killings. Often perpetrators of mass shootings take their own lives or are killed by law enforcement officers (commonly called suicide by cop) while in the act. But in the Quebec City case both suspects are alive and in custody. Will they fess up to being influenced by President Trump’s bombastic approach being implemented a mere three-hour drive to the south?  Has the cauldron of hate that has been stirred by Trump’s rhetoric throughout the election process, leading to his victory, splashed over the border?  

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Canada’s Justin Trudeau Welcomes Refugees: “Diversity Is Our Strength”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Cole Burston—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Cole Burston—Bloomberg/Getty Images

On September 11, 2001 while planes that had been hijacked by terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon were being flown into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, thousands of other flights were in the air. For obvious reasons the air space over the United States was soon closed and was being patrolled by the military. Therefore these flights had to be diverted prior to reaching their destination.

There are numerous stories of Canada’s role in accommodating several of those flights in what became known as Operation Yellow Ribbon.

Many such flights were able to land in various Canadian airports, big and small. There are numerous stories of Canada’s role in accommodating several of those flights in what became known as Operation Yellow Ribbon.

I find it interesting that almost 16 years later new US President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order to ban citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, Muslim majority countries, from entering the United States has created a similar reaction from Canada.

Not unlike the situation in 2001, while Trump was signing his Executive Order last Friday, there were people with legal visas who were already en route to the US and who, upon landing, were greeted with a detention cell.

Not only did Trump move the finish line, he took it away completely.

Once again Canada has stepped in by inviting those who were seeking what they believed to be legal access to the US to come here should they be turned back upon arrival. I suspect there will be those Trump supporters who will say we are welcome to these people, while others will fear having them so close.

It is not Canadian policy to accept terrorists with open arms; but these people are not terrorists, they have been vetted and given visas for entry to the US. They have had the rug pulled out from under them after passing through the system. Not only did Trump move the finish line, he took it away completely. Leaving these folks stranded. Welcome to Canada!

 

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+